Easy Saffron Rice

Easy Saffron Rice

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 8 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Standing Time: 5 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 6 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
92 Calories
1g Fat
15g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 92
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 504mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 143mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy recipe for saffron rice hails from the south of Thailand, where it is often eaten with roast chicken. Saffron rice makes dinner extra special and is nearly as easy to make as regular rice. You don't need to own a rice cooker to make this recipe. The rice is boiled in a pot on the stove but tastes very similar to steamed rice. And, unlike most saffron rice recipes, this one is fat free.

Saffron brings not only its signature flavor to this dish but also provides its signature yellow color to the rice. Because saffron is so expensive, this recipe calls for just a small amount, and the color is enhanced by adding turmeric. Not only does that spice have incredible health benefits, but it also turns the rice a vibrant yellow color.

This recipe calls for jasmine white rice and chicken stock—if you want to make it vegetarian, use vegetable stock and replace the fish sauce with salt, but do not use brown rice.

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"The saffron rice was very good and had beautiful color. I used Jasmine rice (unrinsed), and it was perfectly cooked after about 12 minutes. The rice was excellent with chicken thighs. Make sure you are using good quality saffron. It should have a slightly floral, sweet taste. It should not be bitter or taste like plastic." —Diana Rattray

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Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups good-quality chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chile

  • 1 squeeze lemon juice (or lime)

  • 2 cups white Thai jasmine rice (or white basmati rice)

  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste (or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Easy Saffron Rice ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Pour the stock into a medium-sized pot with a tight-fitting lid. Place the pot on the stove over high heat.

    stock in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. While the stock is coming to a boil, add the turmeric, saffron, chile (if using), and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Stir well.

    stock and spices in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add the rice plus 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (or 1/4 teaspoon salt) and stir. Bring to a boil.

    stock spices and rice in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Reduce the heat to low and cover tightly with a lid. Cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed by the rice. (Insert a fork or knife straight down into the pot and push the rice aside. If you see liquid, it still needs more time to cook.)

    Easy Saffron Rice in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. When most of the liquid is gone, turn off the heat and place the lid on tightly. Allow the pot to remain on the burner for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until you're ready to eat. The residual heat inside the pot will finish steaming the rice. The rice will stay warm in this way for 1 hour or more.

    Saffron Rice in a covered pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Before serving, remove the lid and fluff rice with chopsticks or a fork. Taste test for salt, adding 1/2 tablespoon more fish sauce or a little more salt if needed (the amount will depend on the saltiness of your stock). If the rice tastes too salty, add another squeeze of lemon juice. 

    Easy Saffron Rice in a pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Along with the flecks of red chile, you may notice a few splashes of reddish orange coloring throughout your rice. This is from the saffron and is desirable.
  • Leftover rice can be stored in the refrigerator and used the next day.

Recipe Variations

  • Replace 2 cups of the chicken stock with 2 cups of coconut milk.
  • Garnish the saffron rice with sliced green onion, chives, parsley, or cilantro.


Why Is Saffron Expensive?

Thanks to the labor-intensive harvesting process, low yield, and its extremely low weight, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world per weight. Saffron has an earthy, lightly floral taste that adds a nuanced flavor to dishes and a deep golden hue.

What Does Saffron Taste Like?

Good quality saffron should have a slightly sweet and floral taste. Avoid saffron brands that tend to be bitter or impart a plastic or metal taste.